Terrible news to pass along. We’re getting word that Adam “MCA” Yauch, one of the three members of the Beastie Boys, has passed away at the age of 47 years old. Yauch had been fighting cancer since a diagnosis in 2009, and it appears that the terrible disease got the best of him today.
The Beastie Boys began their career in the late 1970s as punk group playing hardcore thrash music in underground clubs in New York City, but when they teamed up with NYU student Rick Rubin circa 1984, they began experimenting with the fledgling sounds of hip-hop. Nobody quite understood the group’s potential at the time, but by the time 1986 rolled around, thanks to the Beastie Boys’ good looks, dangerous-yet-radio-ready rhymes and the trademark Def Jam sound that fused classic rock riffs with huge breakbeats, the threesome — Adam “MCA” Yauch, Michael “Mike D” Diamond, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz— became breakout superstars with the release of Licensed To Ill.
From the outset, Adam “MCA” Yauch’s distinctive, gravelly voice was the element that prevented the Beasties from being viewed at the outset purely as a cartoon-y, novelty “white rapper” act. Both Ad-Rock and Mike D had slightly nasally voices, but MCA —the eldest Beastie— provided the group an air of machismo and danger. “Born and bred Brooklyn U.S.A. / They all me Adam Yauch but I’m M.C.A.,” he sang in “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” as a formal introduction to his character. “Like a lemon to a lime a lime to a lemon / I sip the def ale with all the fly women.”
Levon Helm decided he would become a musician when he was six years old after catching a Bill Monroe bluegrass show. Today, he died a legend. Levon was known mostly as the drummer of The Band, a band that first gained major exposure by playing backup for Bob Dylan, then became a force in its own right with two seminal ’60s country-rock albums (Music from Big Pink and The Band). But Levan also used his twangy southern tenor to double at times as a lead singer, and periodically played mandolin, guitar and bass.
Levon had battled throat cancer since the late ’90s, but the seriousness of his current condition was only made public earlier this week when his daughter and wife posted a message to his website saying that he was in the “final stages of his battle with cancer” and to “please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.”
Sad news to pass along this afternoon. Dick Clark, the pioneering TV host of American Bandstand, passed away this afternoon. TMZ is reporting that Clark, who had been suffering from a number of ailments over the last ten years or so of his life, died after suffering a heart attack. He was 82 years old.
Dick Clark began his career shortly after graduating high school back in 1947, working for a radio station in upstate New York that his uncle owned. He quickly moved up the ranks, graduating from weatherman to disc jockey in a short period of time. He began hosting a program called Bandstand, which played the most popular songs of the day. Thanks to a combination of his moxie, business acumen and good looks, he was recruited by the fledgling American Broadcasting Company to bring his radio show to television in 1957, which was rechristened as American Bandstand. The show would go on to run for over 30 years, hosting acts as legendary and varied as Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5, Run-D.M.C., R.E.M. and Prince.
Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash with Jim Marshall, circa 2002.
Jim Marshall, founder and namesake of Marshall Amplification, died Thursday morning at the age of 88 after a prolonged illness. His innovations changed both the sound and appearance of guitar amplifiers and had a profound effect on rock from the 1960s to the present day. The “Marshall stack,” two square cabinets containing four 12″ inch speakers each stacked on top of one another with the actual amplifier in a separate unit on top, became the ubiquitous symbol of loud and dangerous rock n’roll and the actual sound of Marshall amplifiers matched their imposing visage.
Davy Jones, the pint-sized Englishman who became a teen idol for the Baby Boom generation as the lead singer of The Monkees, died today at the age of 66. TMZ is reporting that Jones, whose lead vocal propelled “Daydream Believer” to the top of the pop charts in December of 1967, suffered a heart attack in his Florida home.
Jones rose to fame in 1965 when he was selected to become a member of The Monkees, a group that was originally constructed to be a made-for-TV replica of The Beatles. Jones, along with Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, proved to be a hit on both the small screen and the radio; the group churned out a number of wildly successful pop songs, including the #1 hits “Daydream Believer”, “Last Train To Clarksville” and “I’m A Believer.” Despite their prefabricated origins, The Monkees were eventually able to break free from their pop shackles; aided by the heady times and hallucinogens, the group released the experimental film and album Head in 1968, which has come to be recognized as essential documentation of the psychedelic era.
Robin Thicke has paid heartfelt tribute to Whitney Houston by covering her beautiful 1995 song, “Exhale (Shoop, Shoop)”. His soft, gentle vocal compliments the track perfectly, and the stripped back arrangement gives the song an utter poignancy that will bring a tear to your eye. “Exhale” was the late Houston’s 11th number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and was awarded a Grammy in 1997 for Best R&B Song. The heart wrenching cover will have you grabbing for the Kleenex as the subject matter — inspiring yourself to push on despite hurt or disappointment — resonates with the ultimate tragedy of Houston’s early passing. Robin himself Tweeted of the track:
And what a moving tribute. Robin’s vocals bring out a sense of nostalgia and whimsy, in a respect filled ode to the musical great.
Over the weekend Bobby Brown controversially left the funeral of his late ex-wife, Whitney Houston. The debacle unfolded after Brown entered the church where the funeral was taking place with three other people, including his current wife, and was then forced to move seats several times by security. The LA Times reported that CNN journalist Raelyn Johnson (allegedly the only journalist inside the church), said that Brown “was not the only celebrity who had musical chairs going on,” and that “no one on the inside of that church knew that Bobby Brown was having any sort of drama.” Johnson said that Brown “was not singled out,” and that many VIP guests were moved around inside the church in accordance with Baptist traditional funeral protocols, which strictly say that those wishing to sit in the first few rows with the family must enter with the casket, or with the family if the casket is already in place, which Brown failed to do.
However, the confusion with the seating arrangement upset the bereaved Brown, who felt he was treated differently to other guests, and he issued a statement saying, “My children and I were invited to the funeral of my ex-wife Whitney Houston. We were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions. I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continued to ask us and no one else to move. Security then prevented me from attempting to see my daughter Bobbi Kristina. In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene… I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how.” The distraught Brown then went on to play a concert with New Edition later that night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut during which, according to the Huffington Post, he pointed a finger skyward and said “Blessings to my ex-wife, Whitney Houston. I love you.”
In a tragic turn of events the music industry lost one of its biggest legends, Whitney Houston, over the weekend. In a last minute reshuffle, the Grammys made an effort to pay tribute to the great star, with LL Cool J giving an eulogy at the start of the show, and big names like Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Stevie Wonder commemorating their hero (Alicia Keys performed a tribute to the recently passed Etta James with Bonnie Raitt but didn’t fail to acknowledge Whitney). But perhaps the most stirring tribute of all was Jennifer Hudson‘s emotional performance of Whitney’s iconic song “I Will Always Love You.”
While Jennifer’s beautiful vocal soared through the song, and physically she appeared to embody the ghost of Whitney, she didn’t quite hit the high notes with the same easy power as Whitney — so as she paid rousing tribute, she also reminded us of the awesome talent of the late performer, whose natural voice is unparalleled, even by someone who is considered one of the great contemporary vocalists of today. Jennifer’s performance was a deeply emotional one, and it seemed like the singer had some difficulty getting through as she was overcome by tears at the end.
So while it seemed like the Grammys did everything they could at the last minute to ensure Whitney was paid proper respect, some were still perturbed by the closing act, hoping for a Whitney tribute as opposed to Paul McCartney‘s Beatles Medley and the ensuing dad rock guitar-off. What do you think? Do you think the Grammy’s did enough in honor of Whitney? Or do you think there could have been more, for instance a closing ensemble cast Whitney Medley? Let us know in the poll below!
“How Will I Know” wasn’t the first single to be released from Whitney Houston‘s self-titled, 1985 debut album; in fact, it wasn’t the second, either (those honors belong to “You Give Good Love” and “Saving All My Love For You”, respectively). However, when the music video for “How Will I Know” hit MTV in November 1985, it helped Whitney “cross over” and ultimately launched her into the stratosphere of superstardom.
Tonight, as the world struggles to come to terms with Whitney Houston’s untimely death at the age of 48, audio of her isolated vocal track from “How Will I Know” has surfaced online. It’s a powerful reminder of her once-in-a-generation vocal talents, and a mesmerizing performance of the song that VH1 named as the #12 song in our countdown of the 100 Greatest Songs Of The ’80s.
The music world lost one of its all-time greats when Whitney Houston was found dead at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles earlier today. The six-time Grammy Award winner passed away from as yet undetermined causes at the far too young age of 48. While we are all attempting to process this tremendous loss, we decided to take look back at some of the most memorable moments that defined her unforgettable career.
9. Whitney’s performance of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Tribute Concert in 1988.
8. Whitney performs alongside her mom, Cissy Houston, on the Merv Griffin Show in 1983.